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Thinking of a career in teaching? Think again!

Ashling McWilliam for local2 sault ste. marie
February 13th, 2012 at 10:17am

This article is a column or editorial.
The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of LOCAL2.

SCHOOL GENERICAfter graduating from University, I contemplated applying to teacher’s colleges across Ontario. I knew it would be a fulfilling career, but something held me back from submitting my applications. Maybe it was the nearly $10,000 in tuition fees per year, or maybe it was the horror stories of a $1,500 laptop that you were required to rent. Regardless of what stopped me, when I look back now, I breathe a sigh of relief. Many of my friends, brilliant, qualified and energetic graduates of teacher’s college, are unable to even find supply work. So what do they do? If these education graduates want to see a return on their investment and pay off hefty school loans, they have to be prepared to travel. Most of them head north, to Hornpayne or Long Lac, some head overseas, to Europe or Korea. Elementary and Secondary school teaching positions are scarce in Ontario and the chances of obtaining a long-term occasional position are looking bleak for the next few years.

Openings in the teaching field arise chiefly from the need to replace retirees. According to the “Ontario College of Teachers Transition to teaching 2010” between 1998 and 2002 there were record high teacher retirements of approximately 7,200 annually. In accordance with this, approximately 9,000 graduates were pumped out of Teacher’s colleges across Ontario. Now jump ahead to 2005! Between 2005 and 2009 retirements fell to a low of 4,600 annually, but the average annual number of new teachers shot up to 12,200! According to this publication, “teacher retirements are forecasted to remain under 5,000 annually over the next 7 years.” (p.2) On top of this, school enrolment is down. It is important to note that according to the Ministry of Finance’s “Ontario Population Projections Update 2010-2036” birth and retention rates for Sault Ste. Marie are expected to decrease steadily (p.86). So my advice to you is to carefully weigh the pros and cons. My intention is not to advise you against following your dreams, but to weigh your dreams carefully with your career goals.

I lived with some girlfriends who were lucky enough to supply regularly in the Nipissing area. However, let me tell you, these girls WORKED HARD to get those supply days. At night they created business cards with colourful designs that highlighted their teachable subjects and qualifications. They would proceed to laminate these beautiful cards, and when I asked them, “What on earth are you doing?!” They would give me a look of pure dismay and reply, “Well Ashling, we don’t have any supply gigs tomorrow so we’ve got to go out and pound the pavement!” I was dumbfounded. No longer was it the most qualified man/woman for the job, not only do teachers have to go through all of the extra training, supply lists and expenses, but they also have to create for themselves a marketing campaign and walk into the schools to promote themselves, almost like a personal business!!

On that note, teacher’s college can be beneficial in many other ways. Most people I speak with who have graduated from teacher’s college will be quick to tell you that parts of it were very beneficial. They will also tell you that it could have been condensed into one semester. Usually the mere thought of the program being extended to two years results in awful contortions of their facial features. That being said, those of you with that extra post-graduate teacher’s college degree are marketable in other areas, so please don’t be shy to explore your career options. Here at the Sault Community Career Centre, we frequently assist people in assessing transferable skills and identifying new potential on the employment horizon. Come down today and speak with an employment professional – let us help you find your future here!


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